James 3:13-18 ESV Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. (14) But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. (15) This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. (16) For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (17) But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (18) And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
I had a friend who was so puffed up with pride that it was annoying. What was worse, is that like me, this man had been called to gospel ministry. It drove me crazy that someone so prideful could attempt gospel ministry. Didn’t he know that he should be humble? Another lowly friend and I wanted to help my prideful friend off his high horse and bring him back to his senses. We met and discussed how to bring our prideful friend down to earth.
We thought we knew what to do, but as pious as we were, we wanted to check all the boxes on what we should do. We realized in our frenzied discussion of our friends pride that we hadn’t prayed for him. So we prayed for him and his pride. Then we realized that we hadn’t stopped to pray for ourselves and confess our own sins. So we began to confess our sins and somewhere in the confession something broke lose (James 5:16). Our prayers for our own sins became more fervent as our eyes were open to more and more sin issues in our lives. We soon came to the issue of pride and the Holy Spirit made it clear that the issue of pride we had seen in our brother was actually an issue of jealousy and pride in our own hearts. We came to tears and eventually came to our brother to confess our wrong.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. I learned that sometimes bitterness, jealousy, and pride in my own heart can cause me color how I see the motives of others. If I’m not careful, I’ll think I’m on a righteous crusade to set a brother straight, when what is really at work in my heart is sinful, disgusting, and demonic. I can be sincere, thinking I’m doing the Lord’s work, but actually be working against Him.
James reminds us today that there are two types of wisdom. They produce two different fruits. We should examine our hearts to see if we genuinely want to build others up in the faith or tear them down. The one so jealous for the “truth” that he wants to tear others down might be fighting for the wrong team.
Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you for brothers and sisters to whom we can confess our sins and who will pray for us. Thank you for direction on checking our hearts. It is so easy to operate in the world as the world operates. We need your accountability and grace every day. Let us be peacemakers filled with godly wisdom today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
2020 Post on James
Expositional Devotions through James
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